Survey: 50 Percent of U.S. Data Centers Upgrading Thermal Systems scanrail/iStock

Survey: 50 Percent of U.S. Data Centers Upgrading Thermal Systems

Nearly 20 percent of data centers are in the midst of upgrades, while about 31 percent will be upgraded within the next 12 months.

scanrail/iStock

Half of all data-center cooling systems will be upgraded before the end of 2016, new research from Emerson Network Power, provider of critical infrastructure for information- and communications-technology systems, reveals.

The survey of information-technology, facilities, and data-center managers in the United States and Canada shows that while 40 percent of data centers have been upgraded within the last five years, nearly 20 percent are in the midst of upgrades, and about 31 percent will be upgraded within the next 12 months.

Primary drivers of these upgrades include the need for greater equipment reliability, higher energy efficiency, and additional capacity. About 39 percent of respondents said upgrades had to meet state energy codes, while about 32 percent cited ENERGY STAR and 23 percent cited LEED as requirements for upgrades.

The survey found 62 percent of the upgrades are in data centers under 10,000 sq ft, and 18 percent are in data centers larger than 50,000 sq ft.

“Reliable performance and efficiency have always been critical to large-data-center performance,” John Peter Valiulis, vice president of thermal-management marketing for Emerson Network Power in North America, said. “As the edge and cloud computing become ubiquitous, ensuring the health of cooling systems at smaller, localized data centers and computer rooms is crucial. Thermal upgrades are allowing companies to improve protection, efficiency, and visibility within all these spaces.”

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 35 percent of respondents received or planned to receive energy rebates, with 75 percent of those who did receive them doing so within six months.
  • 43 percent of respondents are adding variable-speed drives that allow cooling-unit fans to be operated according to changes in airflow requirements.
  • 41 percent of respondents are adding or replacing thermal controls to optimize the performance of variable-speed technologies.
  • 40 percent of respondents are adding economizers to provide “free cooling” when outside temperature allows.
  • Getting budget approval was cited as the most difficult challenge in upgrade projects, while configuring thermal controls was cited as the easiest.
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